Why people are buying large €80,000 SUV without seeing it
*Technology, tax incentives mean 20pc of Volvo XC90 orders are for plug-in hybrid
IT'S a large seven-seater SUV, costs more than €80,000, has a 2-litre supercharged petrol engine, hits 100kmh in 5.9 seconds and develops 400bhp.
Yet it is being ordered by people, and businesses, who haven't even seen it in the flesh yet. They will have to wait until late April for that.
I understand that those who have put their name down for the plug-in hybrid electric version of Volvo's new XC90 sports utility so far account for 20pc of a substantial number of orders.
The rest, understandably, plumped for the diesel versions.
But this is another sign of how technology and tax incentives can change buying patterns.
Volvo are claiming 100mpg+ for the XC90 plug-in which has emissions so low (around 60g/km) the road tax is just €170 - lower than little city cars and most small hybrids.
There is an added attraction, admittedly. The Hybrid T8 Twin Engine (320bhp engine + 80bhp electric motor) gets loads more spec and bling than other versions.
Regardless of spec selected, the T8 Twin Engine version gets the following bits and pieces over the D5: 12.3ins TFT information display, electric panoramic sunroof with sun curtain, third row air con, 4-zone electronic climate control, 19ins 6-spoke alloys (235/55 tyres), Hill Descent Control etc.
Against that, the T8 starts at €80,950 ex-works which is €10,000 more than the entry-level diesel.
Crucially, that price includes an anticipated SEAI grant of €5,000 and VRT relief of €2,500 - a total of €7,500 - for private buyers.
But business customers also qualify for €2,500 VRT relief and an anticipated €3,800 SEAI grant - €6,300 in total.
As well as that there is an ACA allowance for businesses that seems to be attracting a lot of attention.
I'm told it could mean a company being able to claim up to €24,000 off its corporation tax bill in the first year they purchase the vehicle.
The 'Twin Engine' uses a supercharged and turbocharged 2-litre petrol engine to drive the front wheels; the 82bhp electric motor powers the rear ones.
Six modes let you choose how to power the car; from pure electric to full hybrid as well as special off-road settings.
Prices for the XC90 range start at €70,950 for the D5 AWD diesel (€390 road tax).
The XC90 is the first built on the brand's new scalable product architecture.
All cars from the XC90 to an S60 sized car will be based on this.
Critically, it means they can all take hybrid powertrains.